Interview with Sönke Carstensen, Managing Director, STYLEX

Sönke Carstensen is Managing Director of STYLEX Schreibwaren GmbH. The company supplies paper, office, stationery, art and party products to specialist retailers, chain stores and superstores. Carstensen himself knows the stationery sector inside out and has been offering import and brand distribution services to the industry for more than 25 years. He is also Managing Director of Holding Eurasia Statinvest GmbH, of which STYLEX is a subsidiary. He hopes his entrepreneurial spirit can also inspire young people and acts as a business mentor for the “Deutscher Gründerpreis für Schüler”, an award in Germany for young student entrepreneurs.

“Start-ups need entrepreneurial spirit, but must also keep their feet firmly on the ground.”

What are your new product lines for retailers this year?

We are offering a range of new fancy products that take us into the lifestyle realm. We noticed a great deal of interest in our rose-gold products at Insights-X, especially from women. This allowed us to pick up on a trend that is just in its infancy, and we are able to cater for that. This gives us a significant advantage.

What do you value about Insights-X?

The timing is perfect. We use the expo as a presentation platform for innovations and get direct feedback there from our customers. This allows us to continuously enhance our product range. I really enjoy coming to Nuremberg. There is a more collegial and engaging vibe here than at the exhibition centre in Frankfurt. I really like the atmosphere.

What kinds of services do you offer the specialist trade?

Our brand motto is “always reliably good”. This defines how we go about our daily business. In other words, we are always ready to deliver and our outstanding delivery performance of around 98% confirms this. Our customers really value this as well as our good product quality.

As an importer of stationery products, you have been gathering product, market and logistics expertise for a long time. What would be your major tip for other entrepreneurs?

We certainly had direct contact with entrepreneurs last year, as we supported 12th grade students in Bremen for several months as part of the “Deutscher Gründerpreis für Schüler” young entrepreneur award. In the context of a hypothetical project, six students looked at launching a special highlighter. We got to grapple with the train of thought of inexperienced entrepreneurs – which gave us very interesting insights. They really did well with their project, coming 4th out of 800 submissions, and were therefore invited to take part in a seminar for young entrepreneurs. Getting back to the core of your question, my top tip for young entrepreneurs is: “Keep your feet firmly on the ground.”

What do you find most fascinating about the stationery sector and your work?  

What I like about the stationery sector is that it is made up of a small, manageable group of people, decision-makers, whom I have gotten to know and respect over many years. Competition in the sector is fair. People know and respect one another. I find this really pleasant, especially as it is not a given in every industry. I get a lot of enjoyment out of my work and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

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