Railway cranes used to be assembled here in years gone by. These days, young people sporting tattoos, trainers and hipster beards scurry around the converted factory in the Plagwitz district of Leipzig.

They work for Spreadshirt, a clothing commerce platform which allows customers to have articles of clothing individually printed with slogans, images and cartoons. If you go by the rule of thumb that one calendar year equates to seven Internet years, Spreadshirt is already an online veteran. The company has successfully maintained its place in the market for 12 years, operates in 17 countries, employs around 500 people and has local offices on three continents. “Working at Spreadshirt isn’t a job, it’s an attitude,” is how CEO Philip Rooke defines the corporate philosophy. It’s therefore quite fitting that finance director Tobias Schaugg and new Chief Technology Officer Guido Laures don’t look any different from the other employees. Wearing a hooded top and T-shirt respectively, they are deep in conversation by the coffee machine, just within eyeshot of the football tables.

A chilled-out, can-do corporate philosophy

Spreadshirt’s employees work in open-plan offices with no fixed working hours and no clocking in and out. “Nevertheless we all work hard and put in the hours, and we’re always trying out new things,” says Rooke. “Tinkering around, looking for different and better ways of doing things, is a typical Saxon trait, and one I value very highly.” The company’s relaxed can-do approach dates back to its start-up period and Spreadshirt aims to keep it that way. After all, so far it has delivered almost continuously high growth rates. “We posted sales of 65 million euros last year,” says Rooke. Before joining Spreadshirt he worked for a major UK retailer with a global network of stores. In Leipzig he really appreciates the efficient communication, short ways and established partnerships at the Leipzig location.

Leipzig is a fantastic alternative to New York

For Asian art director Do Laux, Leipzig was also an alternative – to New York. She moved here when her husband got a job in Saxony so they could stay together. As the art director, she and her team are responsible for the overall look and feel of Spreadshirt, both online and offline. She was previously art director in the New York headquarters of a cosmetics group. The 30-year-old appreciates the high quality of life in Leipzig along with its vibrant art and cultural scene. “The city reminds me of Williamsburg in Brooklyn – a bit alternative and cool,” enthuses Laux. In her job, she likes the fact that people are down-to-earth and appreciates the family feel of the business. “It’s great that my co-workers at Spreadshirt are so open and welcoming. It wasn’t a problem at all when I didn’t speak a single word of German at the beginning,” she says. But that’s all history now because Do Laux chats away fluently in German.