“Sometimes you just have to dare to do something, otherwise you never know if it would have worked”.
As a tiger tamer Malte traveled around the world and fascinated thousands of spectators. Today, he continues to thrill his audiences – no longer with tigers in the Circus ring, but rather with thyme at the market stall and home delivery. In our interview Malte tells us how he came to this courageous decision to completely turn his life around.
(Click here for the German version of the interview)
Hello Malte! You have a one-of-a-kind resume. Tell us, what do you do for a living?
I’m a trained zookeeper and tiger trainer. But currently I sell herbs at weekly markets and via my online store. At first glance, definitely an unexpected career change, but for me it’s just the right thing!
From tigers to thyme – how did it all come about?
After my training at Hagenbeck* as a zoo animal keeper I worked for twelve years as a tamer at the circus, performing with seven Siberian tigers. I was young and wanted to see something of the world. It was the perfect opportunity for that!
But apparently not perfect enough? Because eventually you decided to give up the circus life.
I already realized back then that performing animals in this form was no longer in keeping with the times. And when the circus was over, I had to move on somehow.
By that, I assume you mean the change to „Malte Frische Kräuter“ (“Malte’s Fresh Herbs”)?
Exactly. My grandparents had a business selling fruit and vegetables at the wholesale market. As a child, I often helped out there. I always enjoyed that back then. So I took over the business.
What do you like so much about market life?
The fresh air, the many different places you can enjoy, the sunrise. Of course, it’s a lot of hard work and life takes place at a completely different rhythm. So for me it’s also less of a job and more of a way of life – one that I like a lot!
You’re focused entirely on seasonal and regional cut herbs. It’s a pretty narrow niche, isn’t it?
It was definitely a bold move. We didn’t know if there would be enough demand, but I had a good feeling about it. Sometimes you just have to dare to do something, otherwise you never know if it would have worked.
The success proves you right. What’s the deal with your uniform?
Sustainability has always been a part of our lives. Even my grandmother wrapped herbs in the newspaper from the day before. For us, however, it has less to do with marketing and more to do with necessity. My grandfather used to be in the shooting club. When the club went bankrupt, our whole attic was full of old uniforms – which we then converted without further ado! Nowadays, that would probably be called upcycling (laughs!).
A creative idea. Is that how your online store came about?
It was actually intended for customers who don’t have the time to go to the market. But by now it’s going so well that we’ve already had an offer from a Germany-wide supermarket chain that wanted to buy our „Malte Frische Kräuter“ concept.
Wow! And what did you decide?
People like us because we are familiar and regional. We don’t want our parsley to be driven across Germany. That’s not in line with our philosophy. And that’s what we honestly told the company that made the offer.
I can tell that you remain true to yourself in your decisions. How do you manage that?
Through my many years in the circus, I have learned to improvise and listen to my gut feeling. As a result, I have sometimes taken paths that were not always easy – but in the end have always turned out to be the right ones for me.
*Hagenbeck Zoo: Tierpark Hagenbeck has established itself as one of Germany’s most popular zoos. The zoo has been family-owned for six generations, ever since its opening in 1907. Hagenbeck Zoo houses 210 different animal species from all over the world, a tropical aquarium and the new Arctic themed Eismeer section.