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Dresden instead of Munich: Optician Claudia Riedel has decided on a future in Saxony.

Leipzig, Munich, Dresden. Changing locations has shaped Claudia Riedel’s path in life. Born in Leipzig, she began her professional career by completing an apprenticeship in a family-run optician’s, gaining her master optician qualification as she studied alongside her work commitments. In the mid 1990s, she decided to go to Munich and started working for a well-known chain of opticians, where she soon became manager of the second largest branch in the Bavarian capital. But after five years, she felt as if she wanted to go home. Looking back, she says: “I just missed the warm-hearted, sincere Saxon mentality when I was in Munich. I dreamt of setting up my own business in Saxony.” Riedel worked out a business idea involving individual, high-quality glasses. After asking around, she discovered there was a gap in the market in Dresden for the kind of eyewear she had in mind.

Claudia Riedel

An optician with entrepreneurial spirit

Riedel moved from Munich to Dresden, found suitable retail premises, took out a loan and got started. The 43-year-old says: “Thinking about it today, it was a real adventure. I only knew a handful of people in Dresden.” But her idea took hold and the shop gained in popularity. Riedel’s business, “Schaulust” (“Curiosity”), has grown into a well-known brand since it was established in 2001. She now employs six permanent members of staff and a trainee. Schaulust’s philosophy is simple: “We want our customers to enjoy their glasses. Eyewear should emphasise the wearer’s individual style and personality, and meet their very specific needs.” To ensure the products do that, Schaulust works with small manufacturers sought out by Riedel and her team at European trade shows.

Prize-winning returnee

In her 13 years in business, Claudia Riedel has also learnt to cope with the lean times. “It’s all part of being an entrepreneur,” she says. She experimented with a second store and a special shop for sunglasses, but gave them up in 2010 after three tough years. “I switched my focus back to the main store, and developed and expanded it instead.” With successful results: in 2009, Claudia Riedel received the Free State of Saxony’s business founder award for her innovative business concept. In his presentation speech, the president of Saxony’s Chamber of Trade attested to Riedel’s achievements, saying she truly exemplified Saxon craftsmanship. Claudia Riedel says: “I’ve made a real home for myself in Dresden. I love the people, my job, the city and the surrounding area. Coming back to Saxony all those years ago was definitely the right decision.”

pictures: (c) robertmichaelphotography