Anita Tillmann

Anita Tillmann founded Premium, the international fashion trade fair, in 2003 in Berlin. If it hasn’t been said before, allow us to be the first to crown her queen of the German fashion industry. With her fingers in many a proverbial pie, she is responsible for having changed fashion exhibitions – for the much, much better – and putting Berlin on the international fashion map. (Her eager eyes knew of the city’s creative potential long before the bearded hipster…)

The epitome of style and substance, Tillmann is as much a grafter as she is that ever-elegant example of a woman empowered. Her walk, her talk and the impressive influence she has on those that work for, with or simply near her – everything points to a héroïne who has always meant business. We squeezed ourselves into Anita’s saturated schedule to talk about the world of work, taking the lead and what she has to say about her Maison Héroïne handbag.

What motivates you to get out of bed every morning?

Apart from the fact that I love that I get to eat breakfast with my family every morning, I’m always very happy to go to our office in Kreuzberg, Berlin. I’m personally motivated by a thirst for newness. Our 50-person team is passionate and full of energy – work is fun and we’re creative and productive together.

What do you think the traits of a great leader are?

“Leading through action.” The way you lead definitely has an influence on the passion and motivation of the people working for you. It’s important to define clear goals, take responsibility, make decisions as well as changes. And to recognise different individuals’ strengths and to develop those strengths. For us, it’s important that everybody communicates clearly with each other and on the same level, that we respect each other and that we really live these values. Everybody appreciates the level of transparency and the flat hierarchies.

Which women inspire you?

My mother inspires me. She is always positive and finds a solution to everything. I admire my best friend for her emotional intelligence and her creativity. And I’m inspired by all women who stand their ground, who are courageous, who think outside the box and break the mould.

What does success mean to you?

For me success is when there’s a win-win situation – when everybody involved is satisfied. Emotional growth and business growth are as important as each other, and a good basis for further development.

What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learnt professionally?

Women tend to dismiss their own needs for the benefit of keeping the peace, going against their own beliefs. I had to learn that you mustn’t try to avoid conflicts – you have to face them to come out on top. Even if it means being somewhat polarising. My old boss always used to say, “we’re not on this earth to please others.”

With multiple facets to your career, how do you maintain a healthy work­-life balance?

These two worlds aren’t so separate for me. My job is also my greatest passion. To stay distanced enough and to keep my head clear, I meditate and exercise regularly. Plus, I’m really lucky because I get to spend every minute I have free with my family.

How important to you is the balance between fashion and functionality? 

Fashion and functionality are not mutually exclusive. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Aesthetic + usability = the definition of design. Good design is bringing these two factors together in the most optimal way.

How would you describe your style?

Essentially my style is classic and quite reserved. I add in different stylistic touches depending on the occasion.

What’s one thing you can’t live without?

My family.

What does Maison Héroïne mean to you?

Maison Héroïne is one of my favourite brands, simply because it fits so perfectly within my life. The aesthetic suits my more classic personal style, and it makes sense for the modern woman who leads an active life and is always facing new challenges. A Maison Héroïne bag is the perfect accompaniment all day, every day and for any and every occasion.