For almost a decade Jule and Anni have been sharing styling tips, gossip and stories about their love lives. Both in their prime (around 30) they are living in Berlin. Anni is married, Jule is single. Anni can write, Jule can take pictures. A dream team on a mission, focused on the lonely hearts of this city that seemed to be in need of a new singles magazine – Im Gegenteil (Au contraire). Their goal is making themselves and others happy!
S2S: How did you come up with your idea for Im Gegenteil?
Jule/Im Gegenteil: We were at a bar in Neukölln on a girl’s night out and we started pondering about how many interesting singles we actually know and how it would be amazing to get them all into one room. We reached a point where we realized that the issue of most of the singles was meeting the right person in Berlin. I personally can also relate to this matter and Anni has tried hooking me up many times already.
Anni/Im Gegenteil: Another motivation for us to create this page was and is our friendship. We’ve known each other over ten years now. We have lived together and are a perfect match in regards to our friendship but also our theoretical business qualifications. Therefore, it almost seemed impossible to avoid a project of our own. It also was kind of a given to create a singles magazine, as this is an area we both have experience with.
Jule: A fashion blog was out of the question and we needed something that didn’t interfere with existing blogs, so when we started concentrating on our bar-born idea, we focused on potential competition that could have been out there. After all it wasn’t the electric light bulb we had just come up with.
Anni: But after doing research for about a week our conclusion was- we had come up with Im Gegenteil, a quite unique project.
S2S: You personally meet the singles you portrait, interview them, take their pictures, function as the joining link, how does this make Im Gegenteil different from other singles magazines or dating platforms?
Anni: For Im Gegenteil, we create authentic portraits while taking away part of the human barrier one might have while trying to describe oneself, leading people away from the classical description based on a questionnaire. Jule’s portraits underline the natural image we want to create, as she takes them during the process of the interview. There also is no algorithm behind the human beings we portrait who are trying to find the perfect match based on a questionnaire filled out in advance.
S2S: Does the interviewee take part in the creative process?
Jule: The potential candidates contact us with a brief description of themselves, also including a reason why they are not finding the right partner and some even send us a picture of themselves. Reading an application is always pretty exciting and we look forward to every personal meeting and also getting to know where they live and what our candidates are really about. The level of excitement is always very high.
Anni: During the meeting we usually try to create a very pleasant and relaxed atmosphere, comparable to a get together with friends, which tends to result in a chit chat. Our goal with Im Gegenteil is to take away the pressure and to get to know the diverse facets every human has, leading him or her away from the normal CV criteria they would regularly mention. In the end every interviewee of course is allowed to decide what he does and doesn’t want in his or her description, as our goal is to make them feel confident and happy with the way we captured them.
Jule: In the meanwhile I take the pictures. However, during the first stage of the interview I usually lay back, as it doesn’t generally help someone to open up while having a camera stuck in their face. So, after a while I start taking a couple of shots, seeking a very authentic perspective of the interviewee, as they are focused on Anni and are showing their true emotions without posing in front of the camera.
S2S: You launched the page two weeks ago, how many emails of interest has Im Gegenteil received since then?
Anni: Around 130 already. We realized that there seems to be quite a demand. Most of them are from Berlin but there also are over 10 interests from Hamburg. So in the future we also want to concentrate on some other larger cities in Germany. But since Im Gegenteil is still in the beginning phase we will take one step at a time and see where our path will lead us.
S2S: How do you decide on the next person who is to be portrayed on Im Gegenteil?
Jule: We try to follow the principle “First come, first serve” and give everyone a chance to be part of our project. At the moment we still are in the lucky position to have the agony of choice and there are a lot of great people in the application pool, who we are looking forward to meeting in person.
S2S: Has there been one encounter that has stood out so far?
Anni: Speaking to Alex was quite exciting for sure, as the conversation was different from what I had expected. He works in finances and I assumed he would be a little preppy. He actually had a kind of troubled childhood and youth, had his first car accident at the age of seven. He gave us some more insight about himself, which revealed his true nature even further from the first impression we got from the picture he sent us. It was really interesting and nice to see that he opened up to Im Gegenteil.
S2S: Did you already hear about first dating results? Do you expect to receive feedback?
Jule: As some of our friends also participated, we asked them in the first week if the notifications they had received were of an interesting or rather strange nature, as we don’t have any insight into the content of the messages written. All we see is how often someone we portrayed is contacted.
Anni: We have been told that the people who contact our singles put a lot of effort into their messages based on the fact that every portrait tells a small story and was created with a lot of time and care. We can also proudly announce that the first two-three dates have already taken place.
S2S: Do you plan to cover the stories of couples that found each other due to Im Gegenteil?
Jule: If we get the opportunity to, of course. I mean that is our drive for Im Gegenteil, and we are proud of what we created, so if we can, we want to show the positive results to the rest of our followers.
Anni: In the beginning phase which is a very fragile period of a relationship, I doubt anyone will openly want to share how they met and where they stand with each other and of course it is not our intention to pressure anyone to publish their positive results they were able to achieve with Im Gegenteil.
S2S: The curse of larger cities is meeting the right kind of person, as you
constantly are encountering new people who often reluctantly commit to someone. How do you perceive this development? How do you see the situation in Berlin?
Jule: The main problem I would say is the variety and a new generation that doesn’t want to commit to anything. It seems like they are constantly striving for something better, waiting for a better job, a better apartment, why stop at the relationship. I believe the only one true consistency in life are friendships and a close circle of friends. Everything else seems to be sucked into a cycle of fluctuation. There are of course other examples, like Anni who met her partner quite early and married him.
Anni: There always is the chance of meeting someone better especially in the party scene of Berlin. Today you’ll take him home, tomorrow her. And how often will there be two people who are in the same state of mind and actually dare to open up to each other and let out what they are feeling. People of the so called “angst generation” or “internet generation” suffer from too much social pressure and don’t speak out about what it is they are feeling. With the portraits on Im Gegenteil the first ice is broken, as they confess to what they feel and state what they are looking for in a relationship.
Jule: From my personal experiences I can say that even if you are willing to commit to a relationship, our pickiness often gets in the way. Often falling into a habitual way of dismissing one person after another trying to find the perfect match. Even if the average Berliner would like to have a steady partner, they still meet the problem of indecisiveness.
Anni: Age also plays a large role. I remember being about 18 and at that time looks seemed to matter a lot more than what the actual person was about. The older you get however, you will have developed weird habits and your potential partner as well of course, which makes it even more difficult to mingle, as the list of what you don’t want in comparison to the list of what you want is out of proportion.
S2S: I read that both your portrait service and the listing on your page is free of charge. How do you plan to finance yourselves through Im Gegenteil?
Anni: We consider developing this project to a full time job, as it combines everything we love. But of course we won’t be able to work without benefiting from it forever. We have considered commercials as an option and also have found other possibilities, that won’t have a drastic impact on the design or visual images of the portraits of every individual. Product placement would never be an option in the portrait of a single. Maybe on our blog. It’s not our goal to get rich with Im Gegenteil but we are aiming to make a living from it. At this point I can also mention that larger investors have contacted us, and it is interesting to exchange ideas and get some insight into what could be possible. Currently however we couldn’t see ourselves letting go of our “baby.”
Jule: What people appreciate, is that Im Gegenteil is self-made and the personal effort we put into it. We want to preserve this image and not allow a larger investor behind us who could change the entire concept and idea that we stand for.
S2S: Two weeks ago Im Gegenteil was launched, what did you do in order to be this successful this quickly?
Jule and Anni: Nothing at all. We only published one of the portraits with the blog MIT Vergnügen and were considering a silent launch to wait and see what feedback we would receive.
Jule: However, already the first day was a huge success and it immediately took a life of its own. After only a couple of hours the likes on facebook shot up, we received the first phone calls and feedback and were contacted by the dpa (German Press Agency) already after the first three days. Many blogs were very fast in writing about us and through the facebook likes the print media also became aware of Im Gegenteil.
Anni: We were very lucky regarding the development it took and that we didn’t have to push it in any direction. It somehow seems like we touched a soft spot.
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