When the Reimann family, including Konny, Manuela and children Janina and Jason moved from Germany to a new life in Texas 10 plus years ago, they left behind family, friends and their home.
Traveling to Gainesville with two teenaged children and two suitcases was a leap of faith for the family, who had called Hamburg, Germany home for many years.
“When we came here, we did not have jobs or a place to live,” Manuela Reimann said. “I won a visa, one of 55,000 offered each year by the United States, and we picked the Texoma area to live in because it was in the country and he had a friend living here he had visited in the past.”
“Even though we won the visa in the annual drawing, we still had to get our paperwork and pass the requirements which we did through the embassy in Germany,” Manuela Reimann said.
Then things really got crazy for the family.
“When some television producers found out we were coming to America, they got with Konny about being part of a reality TV show,” she said. “Now we are part of the hit show, “The Reimanns,” which airs on a weekly basis back in Germany with more than 20 million viewers per episode.”
The premise of the show is about how the family left Germany and their new life overseas.
“In Europe we are actually recognized in airports,” Manuela Reimann said. “The film crew has actually flown over and filmed our life here in Gainesville and were just notified that our show has been extended for two more years so I am sure they will be back.”
“We flew into Texas,” she said. “I kind of wished we could have arrived like they did years ago on an ocean liner through Ellis Island but the airplane was faster.”
Later on during a trip to New York City, Manuela did visit Ellis Island, the arrival point for so many immigrants who came to America through the island years ago.
“As I walked through the halls where so many had stood years before, it was very moving,” she said. “I felt like I knew how they must have felt during that time, arriving in a new land to a new life. The old building spoke to me.”
Since arriving in the Gainesville area, the Reimanns have now built a home at Moss Lake which includes a light house, patterned after the movie “Yours, Mine and Ours” with Renee Russo and Dennis Quaid.
“We saw their house in the movie with an actual lighthouse in it and we decided that was our dream home so Konny and I built it like that,” she said.
One of the first business ventures the family started was to build four guest cabins on their property. The guest cabins are complete with kitchens so friends and family from Germany and beyond have a place to stay on arrival.
“We have lots of German friends coming over to stay with us,” Reimann said. “They love to come here to shop in the city and see all of the sights. We are bringing international business to Gainesville!”
“Today I sent out an e-mail about our wonderful warm weather,” she said. “In Germany it is very cold and winter-like right now.”
The latest venture for the family includes a children’s wearing apparel brick and mortar store called, “Just Kiddies.” Many of the clothes are handmade with organic materials designed by Manuela Reimann.
“My father was a tailor and that was my trade in Germany,” she said. “All of the clothes are made from organic fabric and pre-washed to prevent shrinkage. Everything is made in a smoke and pet-free studio. Custom orders are available.”
Just Kiddies was originally created in 2002 when the Reimanns still lived in Germany.
Getting her first sewing machine when she was five, Manuela Reimann’s career in tailoring and love of fashion continued throughout her life.
“I have a lot of on-line business but hope that this store, now open only six weeks, will soon have many local customers,” she said.
With their children grown, Jason in Thackerville, Okla. and daughter Janina moving to Austin, the Reimann family has been blessed by a new grandson, Kealan. Best dog, Phoebe, a harlequin great dane, keeps them company now that they are empty nesters. Later this year, Konnie Reimann will open up a Karate martial arts studio next door to “Just Kiddies.”
“Konnie and I met after I took a kick boxing class with a girl friend back in Germany years ago,” Manuela said. “He has a black belt and is looking forward to opening his studio in downtown Gainesville.”
“To relax, I like to do Yoga and run,” she said. “Exercise clears my mind and makes me more creative so I can come up with new ideas.”
“This is our home now and although there are some things we miss about Germany, we love it here,” she said. “Home is where the heart is and our heart is here.”
For more information on “Just Kiddies” visit www.facebook.com/JustKiddiesTexas or stop by the store, filled with hand made items, unique gifts and comfortable, organic clothing.
The address is Just Kiddies, 315 East California Street. Gainesville, Texas, 76240.