There’s a lot of information about the people behind brands and retail shops but we thought it would be great to hear from an agent who connects the two. Here at The Find Store we have had a long-standing business relationship with Pianna from our days back in our old shop. She represents brands that are conscious of how their products impact our environment and we love that! Read our interview with Pianna from Hyggen below for more on how she got started, why she feels so passionate about the brands she represents & her favourite products used on a daily basis!
TFS: Hello Pianna, thank you for agreeing to have this little interview with us! We know it’s out of your comfort zone so we promise to be gentle.
P: Thank you so much, Maritza. I’m very honoured to do this interview, you are so right it’s out of my comfort zone. It’s not really my thing to stand up and talk about me and Hyggen, I prefer to talk about all my lovely brands and the people behind them as I have thought it was more what people are looking for and interested in. But I have been so lucky over the last couple of years to build up an amazing customer base who listen to me as an agent and whom I now sell more than one brands to. You are a great example as you have a couple of my Scandinavian brands. So, the time is probably right now to tell a little about Hyggen!
TFS: So for those who aren’t familiar with you and your work, please give us a little background on your work and the brands you represent.
P: I’m Pianna and I set up Hyggen 6 years ago when I was on maternity with our daughter. It was a bit of a ‘coincidence’ that I couldn’t find the good quality of muslin squares I was looking for in the UK, being Danish and loving Danish design I found some from The Organic Company which ticked all the boxes – beautiful quality, simple design and organic. I contacted them and we agreed I should try to sell The Organic Company in the UK. Since then I have taken more Scandinavian brands into the agency, and now I work with Hyggen full-time.
TFS: The brands you represent all seem to have a similar ethos in that they are conscious of how their products impact our environment. Was that a conscious decision when choosing which brands to work with?
P: I only choose brands that I love and would have in my home or wear. I don’t think I can sell items I don’t stand for. Overtime I have definitely become much more sustainable and environmentally aware and that definitely impacted my choices of brands. I would not choose a brand that is not conscious about their supply chain, the employees and the product they make. I really like that they have a story and an ethos and values in line with mine. I have been thinking a lot on the ‘Why’ over the last couple of weeks. Why do I have Hyggen? I wanted to bring a bit of My Scandinavia to the UK, show how beautiful design also can be sustainable and functional. I wanted to work with smaller independent brands where every thought and idea are carefully thought through before implemented. All my lovely brands are Scandinavian independent brands who have grown organically and not bigger corporations the same way as most of my customers are smaller independent shops.
TFS: What’s a typical day in the Hyggen Headquarters?
P: I don’t think there is a typical day in Hyggen. Like many self-employed I’m carry many hats and are doing everything myself. I spend lot of time talking to my customers, many who now have become friends, looking for new retailers, following up on conversations. I do listen and engage with my customers as much as I can. If I’m thinking about a new brand or some nw products, I always check with some customers to see what they think and if I see products which could work for them I try to tell them. It’s about helping each other, we all want the independent shops to be successful. I don’t do it often enough, but I try to go out and see existing and new customers now and then and get inspiration and understand their set up better and see their shops. Hyggen attends TopDrawer twice yearly and this takes of course lot of time prior and after the shows. We do everything ourselves, our stand is very minimalistic, but people love it, and many express it’s like coming into a lifestyle store and it all works nicely together. I know lot of people are researching online today and not going to shows so much anymore. As much as you want people to come and see your shops, please come and see our shops at trade shows, meet the people behind and feel and touch the products. It means so much to us.
TFS: I know from past discussions, you personally use the products belonging to the brands you represent. Any firm favourites you can’t be without?
P: Uh, that is a very difficult one. As I mentioned before and as you know I only work with brands I feel connected with and want to have in my home or wear. I can’t pick one product, I’m so sorry. I don’t leave my house without a food bag or two from The Organic Company in my handbag. The same goes with Perfume Roller from Mirins Copenhagen. I have just started representing Ayaida who makes water bottles, so of course one of them is also always in my bag. I wear glasses and sunglasses from Have A Look and now in summer I can’t see a day without my Shangies on, I wear my sandals as slippers inside in the winter. Not a room in the house is without a vase from Lindform and I love the scent of a soy candle from Paia Copenhagen.
TFS: How did you become an agent for these great brands?
P: I think I have been lucky that The Organic Company believed in me and has been with me all the way. They have been a good way into lots of my other brands either when I have approached them, or a new brand has approached me. They have been talking nicely about my way of working and the brands are fitting very well together which for me is key.
TFS: Where’s home?
P: Home is Aberdeen now. I’m Danish, but lived in London for many years. After having our second child, we thought we wanted to be closer to family and nature, so we chose to move to Aberdeen where David’s family lives. We love every moment of our life here, but I do miss the possibility to go and visit customers on a more impromptu basis.
TFS: What do you feel are the advantages and disadvantages of working for yourself?
P: When you are working for yourself you are solely responsible and in charge. You decide what to do and prioritise and you are alone harvesting the outcome. It can be lonely sometimes if you have something to discuss or celebrate, but luckily my husband is interested, and I share with customers, bloggers and other agents who have become friends over the years.
TFS: Have you managed to create a work/life balance? If so, any tips?
P: I don’t think I have a work/life balance – but I’m not looking for it either. I love my work, I love Hyggen, I love my brands and I love my customers. I love talking to them and get inspiration and get to know them and understand their needs and situation. I probably work too much sometimes, but I also have flexibility and can cycle with my daughter to school, take the kids to activities, join for school trips, help the family and prioritise my days on my own.
TFS: It’s no secret that it’s incredibly difficult for business right now, both for independents and the big names. You are in contact with lots of retailers around Europe – are you seeing a shift in the way retail shops run their business?
P: Yes, I see a big shift in how retail is today versus from when I started. UK is challenged today, we face so much more online shopping and high streets disappearing. As the online shopping possibilities are growing, we see a bigger need for more reasons and why’s to choose a particular product/brand. People are very conscious about the story behind the brand and the product. We also see the independent retailers are working so hard to compete with online and they also need to find ways to differentiate and be attractive, more and more stores hold workshops and get people together about theme which I love and think is a great idea. Please keep them coming. And for all customers, think to buy independent first.
TFS: Finally, what’s in store in the future for your company? Any brands you’d love to work with?
P: Future, a big word and I don’t know what it holds. But I will say I think I have found the right brands that I really want the UK to get to know and love as much as I do. Some of my brands are very new to me and the UK, so we are still learning about them and getting them introduced to more lovely independent shops. I hope you will come and see us at TopDrawer in September.
TFS: Thank you so much for taking part! I know our readers will find this really insightful. There’s a lot of information out there about the people behind brands and retail shops but it’s great to hear from an agent who connects the two!
P: Thank you so much for asking me to take part. I loved it and I hope your readers will enjoy reading about Hyggen!