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We're used to showing you all our beautiful colored vases, paper flowers, candlesticks and oil candles, but today it's time to give you a peek into the engine room and an insight into us, the people behind Studio About. In this edition of our advent calendar, we will talk about how and why Studio About came to be, and what challenges an entrepreneurial dream can bring.

A new year has just begun and we are on the other side of the globe, namely Bali. The year is 2015 and we (Mikkel and Soffy) have just ordered our joint CVR number for the design company About Form and Function (former name).

Mikkel Lang Mikkelsen is a trained architect and was self-employed at the time. And I (Soffy Dombernowsky) am a trained editor and photographer from Danmarks Radio. We had long wanted to do something together, a kind of free space where we could develop professionally and personally at the same time as having fun. We were sure that with our different skills we could create something cool and hopefully big in the long term. We are both quite energetic, and if we set our minds to something, it will happen. But what exactly our joint project should contain would prove to be expressed on our journey around Asia.



Our first stop was Nepal, where we went on a longer hike in the Annapurna mountain range. A completely enchanting trip, where we wandered for days in all kinds of landscapes and felt life right down to our sore big toes - and yes, that was life before children, pasta salad and cuddle times. In the city of Pokhara, where you start your trekking, there was cashmere everywhere, and we fell in love with beautiful rugs and scarves. Subsequently, we became fond of some notebooks in India. The contacts for the various companies were saved and the bags filled with samples, which we thought the rest of Denmark's population should also benefit from. We had now settled on what this joint project should be. A design company where Mikkel had to develop and draw interior objects and I had to market using my skills with a camera .


We have always been hugely interested in design and especially design where the geek is to create the most simple and aesthetic expression without compromising on function and quality. It also had to be reflected in our objects, and the intention was to meet the needs of a creative and experimental modern lifestyle. Our designs should be accessible to everyone, because expensive design does not necessarily equal good design. A final important element was that it had to be easy to pack, ship and use, therefore it made good sense to create interior objects.

In addition to blankets, scarves and notebooks, Mikkel had a drawer project - a series of mouth-blown, spherical glass domes that had been used for a lamp project in his education. The drawings were adapted and we now had our own first design: the hanging glass vase.


bubbles_hanging_studioabout_vases_glass BACK IN DENMARK

In Denmark, we found a manufacturer who blew technical small glass gizmos for a university. It was an old friend who knew this glassblower, because there weren't many who blew the type of glass we wanted to use. It was important to Mikkel that the vases were sharp and minimalistic, and therefore the glass type had to be borosilicate. Because with that type of glass, the expression becomes easy and far more precise than with traditional glass such as cottage glass.

Mikkel handed over drawings and he blew us our first zero series. I still remember when we stood with our first design in hand. Having something in a drawing that was transformed into a physical product - it was a wild feeling.

glaspusteri_vaser_studioabout Packaging was procured in West Jutland, and initially we packed our bubbles in the allotment garden in our newly purchased cardboard tubes, of which we had ordered far too many. They came to our apartment on large pallets, which we then dragged up to the 5th floor. We had bought a stamp on which we rolled our name, and it took an enormous amount of time to pack 7 cardboard boxes full of bubbles from our glass blowers. But they had to have packaging, so there was no way around it. We participated in various markets, because what did the consumer actually say about our new vases? Fortunately, they loved it, and another glass collection was created – the standing bubbles and flower tubes.

standing bubbles_studioabout



The stores began to approach, and it became difficult to keep up with the demand. We decided to send production to Asia in autumn 2018, and a hobby project gradually became more serious. It was a long process with a lot of frustrations. Several suppliers were in play, but after a lot of communication and prototypes back and forth, we managed to find a glass supplier.

The collections have been expanded, more stores have been added with the help of agents in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands, and the packing room in the allotment house has been replaced with a real warehouse at the Port of Aarhus.

Studio About has grown organically over the years. With an initial capital of only DKK 25,000, the company has quietly developed into what it is today, a company with enough capital to be able to develop new designs and strengthen the sales department, and to be in around 100 stores around the world .

It may sound easy to start an entrepreneurial adventure, but it is hard work in every possible way and the operation takes up a lot. The hardest part is all the communication that takes up a lot of your time. And one of the things that surprises the most is how long the processes take. From the time Mikkel has his first sketch ready, it usually takes 6-8 months before a finished prototype is ready for production. There are lots of tips to give if you are considering starting your own business. One of the things we have put a lot of emphasis on is testing our prototypes on a sales platform, e.g. a design market, before final production. Is it something that the consumer wants, what do they say about colors etc.? Here you will be informed clearly whether you have a design that can be sold. We have also always cut it tight, so we have ordered as little as possible, but within the requirements, because there is always a minimum order when you order from Asia. It can be difficult in the scaling process, but then you have to accept that it is okay to be sold out of a collection once in a while. Another piece of advice that has surely been heard before. You just have to jump into it, because what's really the worst that can happen?

We often have a conversation about why we do what we do. Each time we come to the conclusion that creating something and hopefully making others happy makes us want to keep going. We are still developing personally and professionally, and it is hugely rewarding to have something together as a couple, so that all our conversations over the dinner table are not only about our children, and when I read this post, I can't help but be a little proud .

bubble tube_studioabout_vases

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