Interview: Gudrun Sjödén + A Giveaway
Every now and then we like to introduce you to an inspiring entrepreneur who turned their passion into a successful business.
Today we’re talking with Swedish design mogul Gudrun Sjödén. Gudrun Sjödén launched her namesake collection in 1974, and opened her first store in Stockholm, Sweden in 1976. Over the last 40 years she has built an international brand creating clothes for women who are unafraid to stand out in a crowd.
Her fashion label is embodied by color and hand painted patterns using sustainable design, from the materials used to the production process. With sales in excess of $500 million annually, they’ve made quite an impact on the fashion world. Ask her and she’ll tell you that much of her success is due to remaining true to her vision and artistic style.
We recently sat down to talk to her about her business and how she does it all. She generously offered one lucky reader the chance to win a free dress. Details at the bottom of the article.
What prompted you to start this business?
In the 70’s, when I was working as a freelance designer and stylist, I dreamed about creating a lifestyle collection and presenting it all under one roof. So my husband, Bjorn and I did just that! My idea was brightly colored clothing with amazing patterns using natural fibers – The first shop opened in 1976 and that idea remains in place today 40 years later.
What is the creative process usually like for you?
Can you tell us a bit about the production process from design to final product?
We have a team of five and meet at least once a week – with 10 deliveries a year, there’s always a lot to do. I have ideas and sketches, which I share with them and they adapt digitally. Once that is done, we decide what material and fabrics to produce the garments in. Our merchandisers offer their opinions and then we begin the production process at our factories. It’s very important to me that we have oversight of how everything is being made.
You launched a powerful/creative women campaign. What qualities in other women inspire you?
I get most of my inspiration from our customers, and strong women such as Hillary Clinton, Theresa May, Vivienne Westwood, and Patti Smith. The vision behind the campaign is to focus on everyday women, as we like to say the “more colorful women in the world,” meaning innovative, creative, socially conscious, etc., the better. Women have an astonishing capability to change the world around them, in big and small ways, and we wanted to celebrate that.
The majority of your employees are women. Are there any particular traits that you look for in the women you hire?
I find that it’s easier for us women to communicate about the brand and products because we’re also using them, but we don’t discriminate; we have men in the company too! First and foremost, I look for passionate people who love our style.
How did being a mom affect your entrepreneur journey?
Luckily, my husband and I both had very entrepreneurial spirits, which actually made it easier when dealing with our responsibilities as parents. Tobias, our son, has followed in our footsteps and is running his own company.
Any words of advice to our mompreneurs to help them along their own business journey?
Remember to choose what is right for you and to know your limits. For some, having a perfect home, running a company, and spending time with your children can be too much. Personally, I’ve been okay with not always having a perfect home. The important thing to remember is not to beat yourself up too much, and be nice to yourself!
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