Welcome to On Repeat! My new newsletter and online journal where I will share topics on a more personal note. Whether it be the perfect Gin Sour recipe, my favorite spots in Stockholm or the stories and inspiration behind our patterns. I have always loved to write and I am really looking forward to pinning down my thoughts and reflections in a lengthier format. Instagram is lovely and will still be the place where I update most frequently but to be honest, I preferred it before. When it was more quiet and focused on beautiful imagery. Without the rushed reels and all the suggested content and ads. Maybe I’m too old, but I just don’t get them. This newsletter will be a way for me to write more freely about things that I love, what inspires me, where I love to eat and travel and also take you behind the scenes in the day to day business.
As this is my very first On Repeat, I thought I would make a proper introduction.
1. About me and the brand
My name is Cathy Nordström and I’m a Swedish textile designer based in Stockholm. I live 15 minutes outside Stockholm in a leafy suburb with my husband, three kids and our very cute dog Dixie. I love everything with a story, I’m a vivid auction and flea market hunter and I’ve loved design, textiles, color and pattern my whole life. It may sound naïve but I truly believe textiles and colors will make your home happier!
I studied and worked within graphic design for over 10 years before stumbling across a pattern design course online just after my youngest child was born in 2014. I instantly knew I was home. A few online courses and a lot of trial and error later, I was selling and licensing my patterns to brands all over the world. From larger brands like Uniqlo and IKEA to small French and British baby décor brands. However, I was feeling a disconnection to the work I was doing. A lot of my designs where licensed to high street brands and I felt I just couldn’t be proud of my work. Who was making these products? Where? What were the conditions in the factories and what kind of sustainability policy did the factories have? Fast fashion and cheap home products was not something I wanted to be part of. I wanted to be part of the whole production process. I wanted to design patterns that I wanted in my own home. Produced in Sweden, ethically and sustainably. So after a lot of thought and many hours of listening to business podcasts, convinced that I was onto something, I took the big leap and in early 2020 I started my eponymous textile brand for home décor, focusing on fabrics and wallpapers made in Sweden.
Today I have an employee, Sara, who is often the first point of contact handling all your orders and questions. She is not only my rock, keeping the day to day business afloat and allowing me to focus on what I do best, but she is also a creative soul and an exceptional content machine. The list of topics for On Repeat and fun content on Instagram is growing long and I really hope to carve out time for that moving forward as it’s something I really enjoy. In a few weeks we move to our new showroom which will also serve as a physical shop with a mix of our own textiles, vintage textiles and unique object sourced by myself at auctions and flea markets.
2. Craftsmanship and local production
I’m so proud of the fact that our products are printed and made in Sweden. This was extremely important for me when starting the business. It’s the core of brand Cathy Nordström and the factories and the people working with us are so dear to me.
For me, sustainability is not only about how we produce but where. So many Swedish factories have had to fold because brands have chosen to place their production in countries where it is cheaper. For obvious reasons. The knowledge and skills of these men and women and Swedish heritage down the drain. Centuries of skills passed on to the next generation die out. I felt strongly that if I could, through my own business, highlight Swedish production and the factories still running, that was a kind of sustainability too. Production is slower. Fair wages and pensions are paid. It’s production with intent, love and respect for the people doing it for a living. Choosing to produce this way is costly, and economic growth takes longer. But I wouldn’t change it for the world.
I’m often asked (mostly by men) how my business “is going”. If business is good. What my revenue is. I usually reply by asking them to define “good”. Success will most likely be valued differently by us.
Success for me is going to work with a light heart, to surround myself with kind people, to not work weekends, to be able to curl up on my sofa at night and watch “Never Have I Ever” with my kids, to have dinner together as a family every night, to go for a long walk at lunch with Dixie. My list could go on and on. But I think it’s a topic worth thinking about. We have one life and it took many years to find my true passion work wise, I was about to turn 40 when I started up. This doesn’t mean that I don’t get overwhelmed with work, because I do. Quite often. But I actively choose to postpone things when I can, in order to be able to do all the above. Sure, economic growth might take a bit longer. But I love what I do and I want to continue doing that. I want to foster a warm and exciting working environment and stay true to our core values as a business. That means slow organic growth, having fun, listening to music in the office, only working with kind people and continuing to highlight Swedish production. And last but not least, always make time for a gin sour on Friday after work.
Thank you so much for your support and for following along on our journey!