The people who make up our Jack Wolfskin community are as diverse as the situations for which we develop our products. Of course, there is our Jack Wolfskin family – those adventurers who offer accounts of their outdoor adventure experiences from various corners of the earth. And then there are those who are less visible on social media but who nonetheless contribute day in and day out into making Jack Wolfskin one of the most successful outdoor brands in Europe. These people include the staff at our headquarters in Idstein, as well as hundreds of store managers around the world, who, on the most personal level, provide our customers with the best possible advice every day through their knowledge and experience.
One of them is Silja Schneider. She has been closely connected to Jack Wolfskin all her life. Her parents have been part of the Jack Wolfskin universe since the brand’s founding. As a child, Silja Schneider appeared in the Jack Wolfskin catalog with her siblings. Since 2016, she has run the Jack Wolfskin Store in Bonn.
How did you become part of the Jack Wolfskin family?
My father knew Jack Wolfskin’s founder Ulrich Dausien back when they were both boy scouts. And when he first established the brand, my family would help in the warehouse. Later, my parents set up a stand in front of the university in Cologne and sold the first Jack Wolfskin backpacks. That’s how they financed their studies. Not long after that, they opened a multi-label store in Bonn, first under the name Sine (the nickname of Ulrich Dausien, editor’s note) and later, in 1988, renamed it to Steppenwolf. In 1997, they additionally opened a Jack Wolfskin Store in Bonn, the company’s seventh store.
You appear in the early catalogs as a child model. How did this come about?
My father left the business at some point but then worked in advertising for Jack Wolfskin. In 1997, I ended up in the catalog together with my siblings. I was always involved with the stores and even helped at trade fairs from an early age. I had a lot of fun and enjoyed lending a hand during my school vacations, like helping to prepare catalogs for shipping. My brother and I earned enough in two days to buy some rollerblades in two days. Another job was to put shoelaces into shoes after a new ordering system was introduced. Whatever the activity, we kids always took part.
Can you recall how the moment when the catalog photos were taken?
Yes, it was during a three-day family event by Jack Wolfskin called KWOPS. It offered many activities for families, like learning how to make a fire or taking a boat tour on the lake. We made rafts, and families camped out in tents. Somebody took a picture of us as a family within the context of the event.
My dad took the other picture in a photo studio. Besides me, you can see my younger sister and brother, as well as a friend. I remember that we had to run back and forth and pretend it was raining. It was 1997, and I was 11 years old. It was a memorable experience. But my father had always taken many photos, so we didn’t feel uncomfortable or anything.
Were there any reactions from friends or acquaintances? Did anyone ask you about the pictures in the catalog?
No. All of my friends knew that my family was involved with Jack Wolfskin. Even at school, everyone knew that we were the family with the outdoor clothes because we had the outdoor gear and clothing store in Bonn. I remember it being great when we opened our second store. We kids would be running back and forth between the two stores, picking up goods and doing all kinds of chores. I always felt proud when people associated us with the Steppenwolf and the Jack Wolfskin stores.
Did you always know that you would follow in your parents’ footsteps professionally?
No. My parents always left it up to me to decide if I would join the family business. I never had to, but always wanted to. When I was 16, I would help with accounting after school. Then I started university, and during my traineeship, I ended up at a Jack Wolfskin Store after all. In 2021, after the birth of my son, I joined the management team and, since 2016, I have been running the store entirely on my own. So I’ve been firmly rooted in the brand for 35 years now.
As you mentioned, you have a son. Is he also involved in the business?
I first brought him along during the Jack Wolfskin ordering days when he was only three months old. He doesn’t accompany me to store-partner meetings anymore because he must attend school. But people constantly ask about him and are always surprised at how much he has grown. And then there are the typical remarks like, “I still remember how he used to crawl around on the floor.” I also meet people who were involved in the outdoor sector way back when who tell me, “I still remember you sitting on my lap!” My son has always helped me with the inventory, and he is happy to come to the store and lend a hand whenever he has time off from school. He especially likes selling things and working the cash register.
What sells best at your store?
Most recently, hats. But Jack Wolfskin is best known for its double jackets and the 3-in-1 jacket. Many people ask for jackets with a removable lining, which has always been the case. During the winter, not a day goes by when I don’t get that question.
What is your personal favorite product?
At the moment, I am totally into our reflective hat, the Night Hawk Cap. It features a fabric woven into the cap that initially appears black. But as soon as light hits it, the material reflects it back very intensively. When I walk the dog in the evenings, this cap is very convenient – people see me right away. And when I try to get my son to wear a hat, he doesn’t make a fuss because now he needs no extra reflector bands. The Night Hawk Cap is literally my highlight product, and I simply can’t recommend it enough.
Does your son have a favorite product?
He likes to wear his winter jacket, the Argon Storm jacket for children. It keeps you warm, but it is super light – and that’s especially important to him. He doesn’t like to wear one layer on top of another, let alone sweaters. So now he can simply wear his T-shirt and this warm jacket over it. As far as I am concerned, he can go to school like that, because I know that he won’t freeze.