The Story Behind the Brand - Ekelund Weavers
The very first episode of these brands stories is here and what an exciting conversation I had with Ekelund's export manager - Sabine Jansson, below are the questions, my own and my customers she very kindly answered in great detail.
As a little introduction from me to you who don't know much about this brand, it's been officially registered in 1692 and has been run by the same family ever since.
- The company name - has it always been EKELUND from the beginning? (note to the readers: Ekelund is the surname of the family running the company since 1692)
The company had a bit different name from the beginning, it was called Linneväveriet as much as I know.
- How do you adjust to ultra modern times being a brand that dates back to XVII century? Are there any designs still in action that could be similar to what you weaved back in 1692?
We don’t have any patterns in our range from so far back, but we have Åttebladrose which is from the middle of the 19th century and until a couple of years we had patterns like our Jaktmönstret or Gustaviansk which were patterns from the end of the 19th century, beginning of the 20th century. Both favorites of our former King Gustav III.
note from Funky Little People: Åttebladrose can be found here in our shop in a form of tablecloth, contact me if you'd like to order any other items available in this XIX century pattern.
- Are you still suppliers to Swedish Royal family or any other notable people round the globe
It has been a few years since we supplied the Swedish Royal family; the wife of the abdicated Emperor of Japan has bought some tablecloths of her favorite Blåklocka some years ago.
- Is it possible to visit the factory or have you had to shut this in pandemic?
The factory was not closed during the pandemic, but as we offer a factory tour to the public we decided to close this during the pandemic as a precaution to our employees. Normally visitors can ask our staff questions and have a close look on the machines, but here we wanted to minimize the risk of eventual spreading virus.
- Has there been any special measures taken during the pandemic? What was the impact of it on Ekelund?
We are following since day 1 the recommendations from our Health Authorities (Folkhälsomyndigheten), which most of you have practiced as well: keep distance, wash your hands, stay at home if you feel the slightest symptoms of getting sick. We have introduced extra routines for cleaning and meetings etc. Meetings were held more often via digital solutions.
The most significant impact was probably that we have been lacking staff when they stayed at home, waiting for test results.
- Where do you fibres come from? cotton, bamboo, flax etc
We use organic cotton and linen yarns, while bamboo yarns are from conventional grown bamboo. The organic cotton comes from areas in the natural cotton belt. That means the cotton is always grown without irrigation, but as well without use of chemicals. The area can depend on when we need new material and which region just has the cotton quality available we need.
The flax is coming mainly from Belgium and France, as it is the best quality.
Bamboo is from China.
- What organic certification does Ekelund carry?
We are carrying only GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) throughout our whole process, from the farms the fibers were grown, to the yarn manufacturers, dye house until the ready product will leave our factory. All our material we use, including the paper for order confirmations or invoices, our paper tags, boxes etc are certified and if necessary we can trace the fibres to the farms they were growing.
- Question from a customer: I would like to know, how do they decide on designs? And how do those designs get translated from ideas to woven form?
On one hand we follow trends closely, which means we are working close with a trend company when it comes to colors, structures and shapes. As we offer with both inhouse and external designer, we evaluate a wide range of patterns and choose the ones we think match to our Nordic roots. From there, we choose the colors and then transfer the pattern into weaving file. For that we have a special soft ware program.
- Are you able to say who's your biggest buyer in the world (apart from Swedish market) and what's the most exotic place you have a stockist?
If we speak about markets, our biggest markets are Norway, Germany and the United States. But you can find our products in many European countries, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Iceland
The most exotic places are according my opinion Faroe Island, an island with so little population.
- How many people do you employ in Horred? How automated is the factory - how many people does it need to operate daily?
We are around 30 people working in Horred and we need all of them for our daily operation. Being automated is necessary for us for being able to offer Swedish products to a reasonable price level.
We have e.g. 2 special designed sew apparatus on which we sew most of our products. One sew apparatus equals with 20 seamstresses; seamstresses can hardly be found any longer in Sweden.
- How many tea towels are being made in a single year?
In average we manufacture around 160 000 towels per year, followed by table runners which is the second big product group.
- Who is your target customer?
Our target customers are retailers, but as well online shops. The range of retailers vary from shops specialized on Scandinavian design, textile shops, interior shops to glass & porcelain stores, book stores, flower shops … you name it. Our range of pattern makes it so easy for many categories to find their favorites. If you are specialized on Moomin or Pettson & Findus will give you the chance to complete your range as well with some Ekelund items. There are so many possibilities, and as we do as well customized products we have many museum stores or other customer categories who add textiles from us with design from them.
- Have you got your own shops in Sweden?
We have only our own factory outlet, but we do not have own shops otherwise.
- What are your most important values?
We care about the planet and produce with care; we value our traditions, without forgetting looking into the future.
Our philosophy is bringing you to happy homes each day and we love when our products are used often and given from generation to generation.
- Finally, the brand exists so many years already but how do you see Ekelund in the next 10 years?
We hope that more customers and consumers detect our values and want to be a part of the Ekelund family. Our values and our way of working is hopefully the way, more and more people are looking for.