Bürsten Nickles - from IT Graduate to Brushmaker

On opening the creaky door of the " Bürsten Nickles" brushmaker’s shop in Bamberg, you're whisked back in time. Welcomed by the scent of wood, you briefly wonder whether you might have landed in a dolls’ house or on a film set. Around the walls are brushes of all kinds: Washing up, shoe and clothes brushes, brooms and hand brushes... Photos on the walls bear silent but expressive witness to the long history of this family business.

Kilian Schumm has brought the business - owned by his family for over 100 years - into the 21st century and the internet. Handmade brushes from their own workshop are sold here - although Kilian is actually an IT graduate.

Christina from Team Wildling, who lives more or less nextdoor to the little shop, finds out why he still wouldn’t want to miss his current job.

Who are you and what do you love about what you do ?

I'm Kilian Schumm and am the fourth generation of owners of Bürsten Nickles.

My work here is incredibly wide-ranging. Each day is different from the one before. I spend my time between working in our own workshop and selling in the shop. My wife has her florist’s workshop on the premises, and my mother works with us here in the shop. So Bürsten Nickles is truly a family business - not just from a historical point of view.

What’s your favourite material ?

I love wood. It’s such a multi-faceted raw material with a unique feel, and it’s a long-lasting resource.

Goat hair is difficult to process, but it's incredibly soft and is good at picking up dust. Overall, the longevity and high quality of the materials we use is important to me, also in terms of sustainability.

What do sustainability and social responsibility mean to you ?

I’m convinced that everyone can contribute to counteracting climate change, for example by living consciously. For me as a business owner, that means in very specific terms that I manufacture my products according to criteria such as quality and longevity. If something lasts for a long time and doesn’t break, it doesn’t need replacing. And that saves resources. I choose my suppliers and business partners based on whether they share these values with me. Of course that also applies to all who worked with us on the Pumbaa brushes for Wildling!

I use only FSC-certified wood for the brushes. I try to avoid packaging as far as possible. Happily my customers are also on board with that. They often bring their own cloth bags and baskets, coming either on foot or by bike. That's why I’m really glad about my shop’s central location in the old town district.

What's the wildest thing you’ve ever done ?

(Kilian thinks for a long time, then begins to beam and continues talking)

Just after I’d decided to run Bürsten Nickles with its own workshop again, our daughter was born. She’s growing up in this shop and wants to explore everything. Child and business, that meant two wonderful “projects” at once.

Which child-like characteristics have you kept until now ?

My curiosity! I’m always trying something new and looking for a change. I try out ideas and just give them a go. I mean, I’ve got a degree in IT and now I'm a brushmaker! If there's something that drives me, then yes, curiosity.

What's your wish for a sustainable future ?

Very generally: Health, contentment and happiness - for my family, for everyone. Specifically for myself and for the business: That things will settle down following the conversion of the shop and workshop so that there's more time again for the craft itself. I’d like to continue to expand our own brand, so that each of our handmade brushes is recognisable as a one-off piece.


Thank you very much, dear Kilian, especially for your shoe brushes, which are a wonderful product for our Wildlings!

Anna, Ran & Team Wildling


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