Today I am interviewing probably the most stylish horse rider I have ever seen in my life (and I leave you to judge that looking at the pictures below). She loves shooting too, and she is a true example of female entrepreneurship: Marinne Ferch, owner of Mirabell Strickmode.
Marianne has conquered the wardrobes of Royal families in Europe as well as a bunch of Celebrities in the US. And even though she prefers to keep the names of some of these celebs as a well kept secret, I am sure you have probably seen them in renowned fashion magazines.
1.Tell us about you, where were you born, where do you live and what do you do for a living?
I was born 1963 in Salzburg, where I had the joy to spend my childhood, attend school and finished my bachelor's degree in 1982.
After that I went on a gap-year in France and England to improve my French and English, and enjoyed cooking, hence why I graduated Corndon-Bleu à Paris and spent a lot of time horse riding.
From 1983-1985 I attended an administrative and economic academy in Salzburg.
I worked for the Austrian Trade Commission in1985 and became the chief secretary of the Austrian Economic-Film service and Film production in Vienna for 3 years.
I came back to Salzburg in 1988 and I had the pleasure to work for the first Jack-Nicklaus Golf Course "Gut Altentann“ in Austria– the golf course was still under construction when I started and it was fantastic to see how the emblematic golf course developed into what it is today.
My duty was to get members to join and manage the memberships before opening.
I also organised big golf tournaments but I didn't play golf – all my love belonged to the horses –
When I got married in 1991 (the first time) and I stopped working for Gut Altentann, and I would slowly start to get interested by the idea of having my own company.
2. How and why did you start Mirabell Salzburg.
It is a funny story which starts with my aunt, who lived in the US and came back to Salzburg in 1992.
She visited the knitting factory where she worked before she migrated to the US, and she found out the company was in financial trouble after losing their biggest client, so she decided to take over the business before it went bankrupt. She was captured by the idea of knitting and showed me the company.
I was so surprised to realise a knitting manufacture in the city of Salzburg could do such wonderful hunting sweaters! The famous "ELCH" hunting sweaters that Austrian people have grown up with, were manufactured by this small business. I always borrowed ELCH sweaters from my father as a teen, and I used them both to hang out with my friends as well as when I competed in horse shows, and it was a shame that it was about to disappear.
After finding this out, my aunt bought the business and I fell in love with the know-how and wanted to help saving the company starting the Mirabell Collection for ladies, so I started to get involved in the business in the 90s. When my aunt herself handed over "Mirabell“ to new owners – the company was transformed into a limited liability company named Mirabell Strickereiwaren Ges.m.b.H. the brand "Mirabell Salzburg“ started with the new LOGO designed by my father. I started managing the company and became shareholder as well, which is how my career as a female entrepreneur started. I got more and more into our ladies collection, self taught in the design and knitting industry and learning by doing, Mirabell grew healthily and my Mirabell ladies collection became more and more well known in Europe. Finally and after my second marriage, in 2016 I got the chance to fully take over Mirabell and became the sole owner. We combine new ideas for designs with the well prooved and long lasting Shetland quality – staying true to my style! I am very happy and a little proud about that.
3.Who are your top clients? Do you have any celebrities wearing your clothes?
There are various members of European Royal Families in Norway and Belgium for example, and beautiful lady in Sweden called Andrea Neira of My Shooting Journey!
Our clients are exclusive shops over the world– examples of famous shops buying for decades are E.J. Binet in Bruxelles, or since 2017 Gorsuch Ltd. in the US, and even though we are a very small business, we deliver to certain stockists in Germany, Belgium, France, England, Switzerland, and of course the US and Austria.
In Sweden for instance, we work with "Austrian Look" run by Margareta Slöör.
There is one very good hunting shop in Madrid, that we love to work with, called "Armería Serbal“.
We also have a lot of celebrities in the US wearing our brand, but we prefer not to disclose that.
4. Why do you think people love your brand so much?
Because of the styles, quality and colours. We only use Shetland wool. We knit, we wash and we manufacture everything in our company in Salzburg. Mirabell is not fashion – is it style and you live and love it for years… Mirabell models stand up for casual elegance - worn by sophisticated people loving nature.
5. What are your plans for the future of your brand? What fairs will you attend next?
To stay on track – and we will not derive from my typical Mirabell-Design, this way our designs are easily recognised around the world.
We would attend a lot of fairs but Corona makes everything very unsure at the moment. My plan would be the T & C in Salzburg in Autumn and Spring next year as well as the Supreme in Düsseldorf, but this is subject to approval due to Corona. IWA in Nuremberg: 12th – 15th of March 2021 We invite business partners to come to visit us in Salzburg. Professional buyers can order the collection in the well equipped showroom in our production facility. Our guests are always very impressed to see how we manufacture under one roof in the city of Salzburg!
6.Apart from your own brand, what other Austrian Brands do you like for traditional hunting clothes for women?
Habsburg and Schneiders.
7. Are you a hunter? If so, when did you start hunting and what are your links to Field Sports?
I got my hunting license in 1988 and I had the honour of being the shooting champion in Salzburg 1998. I remember a lot of wonderful hunting experiences in the mountains as well as in the fields, but unfortunately being a female entrepreneur who loves to go horse riding, I had to stop hunting as I do not have enough time for everything.
8. What do you think about the future of retail and e-commerce, how important do you think it is to sell online and work with influencers?
Well, this is one of the most difficult questions for me – E-commerce doesn't affect us that much because our business is done through B2B, but it worries me sometimes as my clients do get affected by this and they must keep up with digital trends in order to survive. I have little experience on working with influencers – but I see what you do and this is just great, because you transmit my spirit – wearing my clothes!
You can find more information about Marianne and Mirabel Salzburg here: