SUCCESS WITH STYLE: JAN-HENRIK MARIA SCHEPER-STUKE
The boss of accessories manufacturer Auerbach is the most prominent face of the Hackesche Höfe – at least since his success in the Netflix format Queer Eye Germany. We met Jan-Henrik Maria Scheper-Stuke in the Auerbach showroom in Hof 3.
When Scheper-Stuke receives us he appears a bit groggy. The Grimme Award for Queer Eye Germany, the subsequent press hype and a lavish party he hosted to celebrate the award have taken their toll on him. And yet, at the same time, he seems inspired. His appearance as a fashion expert in the makeover show is the present highlight of a TV career that Auerbach’s managing director has been pursuing for ten years now, quasi on the side.
Photo right: © Netflix Thomas Schenk
Back in 2013, Scheper-Stuke was host of the talk show "Let's talk fashion!" for a Swiss youth channel. Then in 2021, Arte had the city slicker meet down-to-earth natives in the land of the Sorbs for a two-part documentary. In Queer Eye, he is now part of a queer troupe as a fashion expert who turns the lives of average people upside down with a lot of ballyhoo and empathy: Motto: You're a great guy, but there's more to it.
It's no surprise that TV producers took notice of Scheper-Stuke: The man is not only good-looking, with remarkable eloquence and the necessary self-confidence – he has also created an unmistakable signature look.
Even though he used to surprise his classmates with welted Budapest shoes in his younger days, Scheper-Stuke got into the fashion industry rather by chance. He grew up in rural Lohne near Oldenburg; his father was a cattle trader. After attending a boarding school, he initially trained as a bank clerk at the local district savings bank at his father's request. He then moves to Berlin to study law. His godfather, who lives there, is commissioned to keep an eye on the young man: Günther Stelly, managing director and owner of tie manufacturer Edsor Kronen.
From studies to management
Günther Stelly is at an age when retirement comes into view. After his studies Scheper-Stuke proposes to him what was previously only floating around as a vague idea: to take over the management of Edsor Kronen. "I was a bit pushy," Scheper-Stuke recalls with a smile. Taking on leadership positions suits him, having already served as school president, student council member and faculty council member.
Scheper-Stuke takes over a desolate company. With the help of an investor, he tries to save it – and fails. After four years, he has to file for insolvency. But he does not give up. He continues under a new name: Auerbach. That was the name of Edsor’s founder.
Photo right: bow ties in the Auerbach showroom, © Instagram user Kate (kate23469)
Photo below: PR-photo for Auerbach with Günther Stelly and Jan Henrik Maria Scheper-Stuke
For Auerbach, the photogenic boss and his team develop an advertising strategy that puts him at the center. He is to become the face of the brand. A character is created: slicked-back hair, nostalgic glasses, pencil mustache, elegant suits, bow tie, pocket square. An appearance that guarantees attention, especially in notoriously slovenly Berlin. Scheper-Stuke goes public – and the youthfully refreshed 20s dandy look is well received. The strategy, possibly also economically motivated at first, works. It's not just a random model that's being staged here. This person really exists. And he skillfully embodies the brand.
The press is all over him, including the New York Times, Scheper-Stuke is a welcome guest at parties, TV productions come knocking on his door. His career as a public figure takes off.
In the Queer Eye team
Being part of Queer Eye Germany is an exciting experience for Scheper Stuke in many ways. He is still impressed by the level of perfection of the Netflix machinery: a year-long casting process, centrally controlled from Los Angeles, ultimately spat out a team that had never met before the first day of shooting, but nevertheless harmonized excellently. Among his very boisterous fellow members of the "Fab 5" team, Scheper-Stuke finds himself in an unfamiliar position: not center stage.
Photo left: ©Netflix
Auerbach and the Höfe
As an owner-managed company and Berlin manufacturer, Auerbach fits perfectly with the concept of the Hackesche Höfe: regional manufactories with distinctive products. This has not gone unnoticed by the administration of the Höfe. They repeatedly tried to win Auerbach over for opening a branch here. Scheper-Stuke has been familiar with the Höfe from the beginning of his time in Berlin: as a student, he lived cheaply in a dilapidated house at the entrance on Sophienstraße. But he is hesitant – up to now, Auerbach has been selling to wholesalers only.
Photo right: Auerbach factory in the former coal cellar of the Hackesche Höfe
When the right location becomes available, Scheper-Stuke finally ventures into retail with a showroom in the Höfe. Today, visitors to Hof 3 will find bow ties, neckties and pocket squares in a wealth of shades, fabric qualities and patterns. Many pieces are one-of-a-kind. Through glass windows, visitors can glimpse the manufactory in the basement from the courtyard. The coal cellar of the Hackesche Höfe used to be located here. In 1905, they were among the first building ensembles in Berlin to be centrally heated.
For Scheper-Stuke, the Höfe stand for "quality, authenticity and tradition." That suits Auerbach, he thinks. "I feel so connected to the Hackesche Höfe that I don't ever want to leave."
Photo left: Auerbach showroom
JAN-HENRIK MARIA SCHEPER-STUKE
born 1982 in Lohne near Oldenburg (Lower Saxony)
Abitur at the Schloss Louisenlund boarding school in Schleswig-Holstein
Apprenticeship as bank clerk at the Kreissparkasse Grafschaft Diepholz (county savings bank)
From 2006 Law studies at the Humboldt University in Berlin
2010-2014 managing partner of EDSOR KRONEN Holding GmbH
Since the beginning of 2015 Managing Director of AUERBACH
2014-2016 Moderation of the luxury magazine "Premium Lounge" of the news channel n-tv
2013-2015 own talk show "Let's talk about fashion!" at the then free-TV station JOIZ
2021 Two-part TV special "The fashion designer and the Sorbs" in the Arte docutainment Village X
Since March 2022 he’s been part of the "Fab Five" of "QUEER EYE GERMANY", 2023 awarded with the Grimme Award.
Podcast with Han Henrik Scheper-Stuke
You can also experience Jan-Henrik Maria Scheper-Stuke in "Höfegeflüster" – this is the podcast from the Hackesche Höfe: Journalist Sebastian Späth meets people who live, love, work, think and dream in the Hackesche Höfe. In the first episode, Jan-Henrik talks about his company, his life and of course about the Hackesche Höfe. The Podcast is in German language.
Finde the episode here.