Meet Laura and Jasper. Their relationship with Berlin has been one of love & dislike and finding new purpose in the midst of challenges and adventures: Three years ago their baby ‘Epic’ was born – the creative agency of their dreams and soon a second one will follow…
Why did you come to Berlin?
Laura: (laughs) I actually ended up in Berlin by mistake! I wanted to study Graphic Design and had applied to a university in London. I got really far in the application process and even got invited for an interview. It was all looking great, but then it turned out I’d applied for the wrong semester. So my only alternative at the time was coming to Berlin.
For almost a year I totally hated the city. I have spent most of my life in beautiful and classy cities like Vienna and Paris. So Berlin, to me, was everything but beautiful. Don’t even get me started about the contrast between nice and polite people in other cities and rough and unfriendly Berlin! I really felt lost here so I spent a lot of my weekends away, working at Formula 1.
“If there was one city in Germany that had the name opportunity it would be Berlin!”
Jasper: Like the typical pragmatic north German guy I am, I planned to come here and study Marketing Communications. So that’s what I did eight years ago. Coming from a small town near Hannover I thought Berlin was super cool because of its vibe. I loved it. Everything was and is possible here. Total freedom. Millions of people, endless potential. For the first year everything was awesome. I just took every opportunity to have fun and party.
What made you stay in Berlin?
Jasper: After that first year Berlin became very overwhelming. I went from the excitement of being able to do all these things to feeling totally pressured to do everything just because it was possible. I started to dislike the city. Eventually I realised that despite Berlin being the city of endless parties you don’t have to join every single one of them.
Laura: It’s funny because now, even though Berlin seemed like a mistake, I know that I am supposed to be here – that it’s the right place at the right time. In a way, I had to escape the city to find what I was looking for. It was while I was in Paris for an internship that I discovered what home away from home can feel like. I found a church which I loved and where I saw myself growing old in, marrying a French man (laughs) and never coming back. But I had to in order to finish my studies. Someone recommended a similar church to me here in Berlin and I experienced the same sense of home and belonging as in Paris.
So, apparently no French guy here… How did you guys end up meeting then?
Laura: It’s actually hilarious – we had exactly the same circle of friends for two years, yet we never met because I was gone on the weekends when Jasper would hang out with the guys that I studied with during the week. That changed when I came back from Paris, because I wanted to be at Church. We had a film course together and Jasper obviously fell in love with me straight away. (laughs)
Jasper: Okay, hold on a second. I actually remember it differently. Pretty sure Laura fell in love with me first. (laughs) Guess we’ll never know… I thought she was really interesting and I wanted to know how she is spending her weekends so I went to church with her. For me, that was a massive step into the unknown – a journey I’d never thought I would end up on.
Easter is the biggest date in the life of the Church. Does it mean anything to you personally?
Jasper: I wasn’t raised a Christian and I had no real connection to church or anything like that for probably 20 years of my life, Easter was a big non-event. I remember being annoyed that the clubs were closed on Good Friday. It didn’t make any sense that we were not allowed to eat meat in my family. It was just about hiding and finding chocolate really!
That view changed when I started going to church with Laura and got my head around this thing called faith. In the early days of starting our agency ‘Epic’ it pretty much felt like “playing agency”. For weeks I found myself waking up at 5am with a crazy heartbeat and completely nervous due to the pressure of not knowing what we were doing. I felt the weight of the responsibility on my shoulders. So one morning I found myself praying to God to lift that weight off my shoulders. And crazy enough: it actually worked. I decided to give Christianity a shot and that shifted my view of Easter 180°. The whole Easter weekend is basically Christianity in a nutshell.
Tell us more about your business!
Jasper: During our studies, we had the opportunity to experience the reality of big advertising agencies. We realized that the beauty of creativity got lost somewhere in between cost estimates and awards. We wanted to bring back the real purpose of creating ads: serving your clients and expressing what is important to them in a creative way. Don’t get me wrong, we had amazing experiences working for big marketing agencies and it was a great teaching ground for us. But there was a competitive and egocentric vibe that we both felt wouldn’t work for us for the long haul.
So, together with a friend of ours who also had agency experience, we asked ourselves, what could it be like? And Epic was born.
Laura: Epic is a creative agency rather than an advertisement agency. Epic is something that we want to achieve – the creative level we want to be at, which we aren’t yet. It’s also the work atmosphere we create, how we interact with each other and with clients. Everything should be epic. When we started, it was just the three of us. Now we are 8 people and growing. What an honor to create jobs and a future for others!
So Berlin had a massive impact on your life?
Jasper: Every aspect of my life has changed since I came here. Berlin is my home now. I came to study but then I found a job, a girlfriend, hi Laura! And married her. Fast forward: now she’s pregnant (laughs) and we’re going to build our family and our business here in Berlin. All that wouldn’t be possible without the community we are part of. I’m not the guy who plans far into the future and I didn’t think it was possible to plan this far – but here we are! (laughs)
What does unfinished story make you think of?
Laura: It means hope. Potential. Excitement. Vision. (laughs) They’re all just big words! Unfinished means everything can happen. But it especially means hope, that your story is not finished, that the best is yet to come and it is possible for everything to turn around – like my story. Coming from Vienna, I used to see beauty in quite a traditional sense, but now I define it in a different way. Beauty to me now is the opportunities I see in Berlin. My definition of family also changed. Church made me realise the people I do life with every day are my family. It’s not about the amount of time we spend together but the values we share and the direction we’re going in together.
Thanks, Laura & Jasper, for your time.