Nordic Intelligence spoke to the co-founder of the iconic accessories brand.
Sandqvist is one of the Nordic region’s most iconic accessories brand, selling a range of durable backpacks, bags and holdalls. Formed in 2004 by 2004 Anton and Daniel Sandqvist and Sebastian Westin, the group takes its inspiration from a range of Nordic-inspired themes.
We took the opportunity to speak to Westin about his thoughts on the brand and the plans for the future.
Nordic Intelligence: Tell me about how you started Sandqvist?
Sandqvist was started by Anton Sandqvist at 2004, he worked at a big multinational company where he lacked creativity in his work. He built stuff in his free time, and at one point he stitched a computer/work bag in his basement on an old industrial sewing machine. Some of his friends liked the bag so he started a small production of approximately 20 bags and sold them to a few retailers in Stockholm. At this point (around 2006) me and Anton’s younger brother Daniel got involved in the company, trying to focus on building a more fashion/lifestyle orientated feel for the bags. And the rest is history.
How has your Swedish background influenced the company?
I’m not sure if it our Swedish background that has influenced the most, it’s more influence by that fact that we grew up in the Swedish countryside, surrounded by lakes, forests and close to nature. All three of us has always been fascinated by nature as well as fixing stuff, old mopeds, and later on cars and motorcycles.
How would you describe the Nordic style of design and what do you think lies beneath this style?
Generally the Sandqvist design is uncomplicated, functional and beautiful. We want the bags easy made, easy to fix, to be perfect for its purpose and nice to use. Nordic design tends to be a bit functional, not containing too much unnecessary details and with a focus on being easy to use. But at the same time really good design, good quality and great fabrics. It could be because of our long winters, as we need clothes that looks good even if you have five layers beneath them.
You use a lot of Nordic imagery on your site, how does the Nordic outdoors influence you?
It’s the most important influence we have, if you look closer at he the images you can see that it’s usually the three of us on the images, we want to show the real Sandqvist, that we live the way we communicate. We love the outdoors. And Sweden is one of the best countries in the world when it comes to nature both because of Allemansrätten “the right of public access” and because we have big unexploited forests, mountains, lakes and a long coastline.
What has been your biggest achievement since founding the company?
There are so many great things that have been done over the years. Going from 3 employees (Me, Anton and Daniel) to around 25, opening four shops, one of them in London. We are working towards a more sustainable production and for example we are now a member of Fair Wear Foundation, we still have a long way to go but at least we have started the journey. There are many other things to be proud of, we have won several Swedish business awards lately, for us it’s really important to not just design good bags, we want to have fun doing it, and have a really healthy company.
Are there any pieces that sell much better overseas than in the domestic market and vice versa?
Generally we can sell slightly more expensive bags in Sweden and in our own shops, such as leather bags and some of the bigger bags that we have in our collection. And of course trends can be differ from country to country, what works in Sweden might be totally wrong in Germany or France. But then of course such trends can change and you can see different styles picking up in different territories. I guess that’s one of the reasons we want our bags to have a timeless design.
What are your plans for the future of the company?
We will keep on doing what we do best which is making really good bags. We will push and challenge our self in developing new and better features and details. We will continue the strategy of opening Sandqvist shops on key markets, building awareness and making the brand stronger. We look at the future with great positivity.