Pici and the City (Interview with Janka Schwertner)

  • English

I've known Janka for a while now. Not the "we went to kindergarten together" type, but the " I read your blog type of knowing someone. She is creative, she is a mom and she is super nice. We also share a passion for Budapest, playgrounds in particular, which made this interview one of my all time favorites. Hope you feel the same!

Who is Janka Schwertner?

I am a dreamer. I love to plan, draw in my notebook and write down terribly long to do lists. After I've put everything down on paper I sew it and pour copious amounts of coffee into myself. Oh, and I LOVE Budapest.

How about Pici and the City? How did it all start, and why kids clothes?

After I graduated from high school I went in two directions. I couldn't make up my mind, so I started a Tourism and Catering college, and in parallel I started a Fashion design and Stylist training. I was really lucky to get into a great school where we didn't only draw and design, but had to learn all the nits and grits of dressmaking. They made us rip seams even if we were as little as 1 mm off the line, it was awful. But, I am forever grateful now for those experiences.

When I finished school tourism took the first place and I only used my sewing machine for small home projects. I did have an idea in my head of how great it would be to sew for a living, but at that time it still wasn’t clear to me what my role in the world of making should be.

For a few years I was making unique dog clothes, I loved doing that. It was basically a dog-dressmaker’s shop.Then came Lujzi and I felt I am not that into dog coats anymore. I started making home decorations and accessories for my daughter’s room, and tiny clothes of course. During that time I also blogged - which is when I met you too - and gathered ideas and experience. And it finally came to me: combine my city worship with baby clothes and you get pici and the city!

You have two kids. Looking at your newest collection, they have a huge influence on your work. Tell us about them.

Of course. You can never turn off your mommy sensors, and I am really lucky my work revolves around children too. I have 2 kids, Lujza 4 and Somi 2. They are cool little munchkins and they sometimes help me in my baby business. Lujzi already has set opinions on everything and she is really crafty so she sometimes helps me pack orders. Unfortunately, she is also pretty wild with scissors too, so I have to keep her away from my table 🙂

To answer your question, seeing the needs of babies and toddlers I was able to form the clothes to their needs too. It is very important to me to understand the needs of mommies and babies and to add the pici and the city world to those needs.

The fall collection was inspired by 80’s and 90’s city playgrounds. It is about the world of my generation, the times when we used to hang out on concrete slides and sphere climbers and we wanted to take the hamster wheel home with us. My favorite was the rocket climber, so that motif is present on t-shirts and as a knee patch on pants.

Tell us about your newest collection!

T-shirt pattern was designed by my friend Magdi Terray.We worked with AgiSzabó Photography on the look-book and we picked the perfect scene which is in harmony 70’s and 80’s Hungary theme. Working with Ági always results in something super cool.

I also want to mention the ’best playgrounds in Budapest’ tote bags from the collection’s accessories, which again is Magdi’s graphic based on my idea. This eco-mommy tote depicts 10 + 1 playground on a Budapest map. I tryed to pick my favorites so that there are famous ones but also smaller, secret playgrounds too.

​Your collections are now made for 0-2 year olds. Is there a plan to expand that to bigger sizes?

My answer to this question is always NOOOOO! But, my son is two already, and my favorite customers will slowly be too, something needs to me done…

​What is your favorite part of the creative process? Do you work alone?

Yes, I work alone. Every little part of this brand is handled by me, so I can never get bored. I enjoy creating the most, of course. However, I love to meet my customers, because I learn a lot from that and that is how my brand can grow. My customers are incredibly cool people and I already have friends among them.

Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?​

Budapest coffeehouse terrace, people-watching and doodling my ideas.

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