FREITAG is one of the most unusual companies in the fashion industry, specializing in bags made of recycled truck tarpaulins. The company was founded in 1993 by two graphic designers, the Swiss brothers Markus and Daniel Freitag. The brothers work as joint Creative Directors and fully own the company, thanks to their strategy of organic growth. The FREITAG video-only case is based on extensive personal interviews with the two founders, Markus and Daniel, and the CEO of the company, Monika Walser, who they brought in later to professionalize the firm. The videos were taped in various locations, including the FREITAG headquarters and manufacturing facilities in Zurich, in late 2013. The case focuses on the unique approach to agility that FREITAG applies to its business operations: seizing opportunities as they come, staying open to change and being creative. The case also highlights the unique governance of a company where the Creative Directors report to a CEO who, in turn, reports to them as the shareholders of the company. As a whole, the FREITAG story illustrates the journey of entrepreneurship: two brothers who went from hand-crafting bicycle messenger bags to running an upscale international brand.
The FREITAG case goes beyond the “agility” buzzword to show how a company creates an agile management culture with agile processes. Originally a concept from the high-tech industry, agility can also make sense for a creative company that designs and manufactures accessories.
A second key learning from the FREITAG case revolves around the unique leadership triad of Monika Walser, the CEO, and the two brothers, who are the founders/owners/creative directors of the company. What is their governance model? How has that model evolved from the start-up stage to the fully professional, 300-person company stage?
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