How Harriet started a book publishing company from a travel blog

Harriet Dohmeyer is the face behind the blog "Fräulein Anker" and founded the publishing house Ankerwechsel. In an interview, she revealed to us how it came about, what motivates her and what plans she still has up her sleeve.

Harriet Dohmeyer anchor change portrait photo

Harriet, how did you come up with the idea of ​​starting Ankerwechsel?

In 2013 I started the Hamburg and travel blog "Fräulein Anker". Since then, I've been photographing and imagining places that have a certain charm to me - cafes, shops, and cultural spaces that exude such an atmosphere that I want to send all my friends there right away. In a backyard in Prague, for example, I discovered a café that immediately reminded me of a green oasis. I left it almost in a trance state. In other shops, it was the passionate founders who made sure that I left totally inspired. After four years as a blog author and a few jobs as a travel journalist for other publishers, the dream finally grew in me to bring my content into a new format: from screen to paper. The result is a travel guide series that is carefully curated and shows you your favorite places in the city like a good friend would. And because I had pretty clear ideas for the project, I ended up founding the publishing company behind it myself. I didn't just want to create the content of the books and then step out of the process, but above all to develop the design with other creative people and also consciously organize the distribution of the books myself. For example, these should be available in (book) stores that match the content and not in the well-known online giants.

Change of anchor All travel guides Amsterdam Hamburg Copenhagen

What does the Ankerwechsel brand stand for and what is your corporate philosophy?

As of today, we are a young, independent book publisher that looks to exciting metropolises. We present local urban designers and work independently as journalists. #Supportyourlocalheroes and conscious discovery is currently in the foreground for us and our readers. But I'm open to other book topics. That's why I can name one thing above all as a long-term approach: make books with curiosity and passion.

How are the books made and where do the materials come from?

In terms of content, I research and visit all the places myself, conduct interviews with founders and take photos. Then I sit down with the graphic designer Violetta Sanitz, who designs the layout of the Hallo books, and we discuss how we want to tell the story of each city. In the whole project, the exchange between us is probably the greatest. This is certainly also due to the fact that we can talk for hours about imagery and design. Later in the process, illustrator Saskia Rasink from Amsterdam also plays a role. For each book, she designs a double page as a map that offers an overview of all 27 tips and serves as a guide. Then, of course, things like editing and proofreading follow, until a new Hello book is ready for printing. Finally, we print here in Hamburg at the local printer Reset St. Pauli. We print 100% climate-neutral and the books are not individually shrink-wrapped to avoid unnecessary plastic waste. But I want to play with open cards: our goal is to act sustainably in as many points as possible - and I think we're doing well - but for cost reasons there are e.g. B. still room for improvement in paper.

Hello Amsterdam Guide Wilderness

Where do you see the biggest challenge in building and maintaining a small business?

Where not? Fun. As a small book publisher, it is of course always a great challenge to finance the printing of the books in advance. In this context, I am particularly grateful for the loyal readers who have supported the project from the start and who diligently back us up with (pre-)orders for every new release. In the end, the biggest difficulty is probably that you simply have to do a lot yourself just to avoid spending the money you don't have. So I act in many areas in personal union, from social media work to sales and delivery - at our resellers in Hamburg I usually do it myself by bike and also pack and package all books that are ordered directly from us I send personally, including a handwritten greeting card. But I like all these jobs and ultimately I'd rather run a small publishing company that grows organically while still meeting my expectations... Than go down a different path that might overthrow my principles.

Are there any social/sustainable projects that you currently support or would like to support in the future?

Since 2018 we have been part of the support group of the Hamburg street newspaper "Hinz&Kunzt". Incidentally, thanks to my work with Ankerwechsel Verlag, I also discovered the topic of my master’s thesis on “street newspapers in the age of digitization”. I was actually only in the street paper office to drop off donations that we had collected at our stand at a design market and then came across it through a conversation.

What are the long-term goals for anchor changes and what do you still want to achieve in the future?

Keep going, expand our distribution, bring out more beautiful books - but one thing at a time and everything in its time! The important thing for me is that we continue to do it with passion and conviction and remain true to our high standards of the end result. Because I think you can feel this love - just like I feel it in the places that we present.

Thank you very much for the exciting insights and the inspiring conversation, Harriet !

Here you can find all products from Ankerwechsel

Photos: © Anchor change/ Malte Dibbern