Grace Tindall on her new online lifestyle boutique, Scandibørn, which brings Scandinavian-inspired children’s design to the UK.
Laura Turner: What’s the story behind Scandibørn?
Grace Tindall: My husband James and I launched Scandibørn in August 2016 when a combination of factors came together at the right time. Maternity leave gave me some much needed headspace to think about my career – the life we wanted to build post-kids – and it also allowed me to formulate a business plan. Simultaneously, James was made redundant and we decided to invest the very small payout, take a leap of faith, and go for it.
LT: Are either of you from retail backgrounds?
GT: I was previously a management consultant for a big US-based IT firm, obviously a totally unrelated industry, so it took me a bit longer to work out the dos and don’ts of retail. In the same vein, it gave us advantages, too; I had to go with my instinct and use the skills I’d already gained – project management, contract management, delivery to tight timelines and never accepting ‘no’ as the final answer. James’s previous experience is in PR and marketing, so our combined skill set has worked well.
LT: Where does your love of Scandinavian design come from?
GT: We have a few close friends that live in and around Copenhagen, so it’s been our go-to summer destination for about six years. Regular travels to Scandinavia and searching for pieces for our son highlighted the lack of Scandi-inspired design available in the UK. We love the whole ethos that surrounds Scandinavian living and interiors, it places value on buying products that will last years and fulfil different needs as our lives change. We’d spent a long time getting our home just perfect and having children seemed to open the door into a whole range of eyesores we didn’t want lying round our living room. We felt there was a gap in the market for people like us who wanted to be able to create playful and stylish spaces for their children, which fitted with their homes.
LT: What does Scandibørn offer?
GT: We sell over 50 brands online, many of them exclusive, catering for the whole journey from pregnancy into parenthood. Our full collection spans furniture, soft furnishings, textiles, wall decor, high chairs, robes and towels, homewares, play mats, tableware, toys, teepees, slides, nursery accessories, baby toiletries, changing bags, gifts for mums and dads plus much more.
LT: What are your current bestsellers?
GT: One of our bestsellers is the bbhugme pregnancy pillow, which was developed by chiropractors and can be used in pregnancy, nursing and beyond – it’s top of our list for expectant mums. The Sleepyhead of Sweden Pods are new to us and are literally flying off the shelves. The contemporary ball pits are available in more colours and are proving popular. Liewood’s stylised animal range of hooded towels, dressing gowns, music mobiles and bed linen are definitely up there; plus our You’ve got this Mama charity mug, which is a perfect new mum gift and supports the Coppafeel! charity.
LT: What do you look for in the brands that you stock?
GT: The first thing I wrote in my notebook when I started to build the idea of Scandibørn was, ‘Who are we?’ I often go back to that page when I’m undecided about a product or brand. Everything we sell has to knit together with the clean, Scandi aesthetic. We’ve had a clear focus and ethos from the beginning and always ask two questions about a brand: Would we buy it? and Does it fit the Scandi brief? If either answer is ‘no’, it’s not coming in. We want people to feel inspired when shopping with us and that starts with knowing who we are and staying true to it.
LT: What’s driving growth for Scandinavian design?
GT: Unlike other trends, the heart of Scandinavian design is the creation of long lasting classics that don’t go out of fashion. It’s definitely changing the way we think about furnishing and decorating our homes in a less disposable way and that’s the main reason it won’t just be a flash in the pan.
LT: You took part in a business seminar at Bubble London SS18 discussing how to grow an interiors business. Can you reiterate some of the advice?
GT: If you’re a retailer, be true to the values of your brand. At Scandibørn, we will only sell pieces that blend together and adhere to the Scandi aesthetic. We often come across products I know will sell instantly, but don’t fit into our brand values. Choose big ticket furniture items that have longevity and supplement these with smaller soft furnishings and textiles when customers want to update their children’s spaces. Finally, don’t be afraid to introduce colour: Scandinavian design doesn’t have to mean solely muted and monochrome.
LT: Can you tell me more about Scandibørn’s recent US launch?
GT We found many of our sales were coming from the US, so we launched scandiborn.com specifically for this market allowing customers to shop directly with us in US dollars. Standard delivery to the US is within 3-5 days, which we believe is unbeatable service.
LT: Would you ever move into bricks and mortar?
GT: It’s a challenge to stand out online and it’s only getting more competitive. Sometimes, I’d adore to have a storefront; the creative in me would love to have the chance to style a physical store. However, what I love about online is that there are no limitations. I’ve been able to create a perfect aesthetic, ensuring our site reflects our brand to a T and shows off our products in the best possible way.
LT: What are your plans for Scandibørn?
GT: The a/w 17 range and US launch are our immediate focus, but we do have some other exciting developments we’re working on. We’re also planning to open more localised versions of the webshop in other territories.
LT: What would be your advice for a kidswear retailer wanting to introduce lifestyle product?
GT: Do it slowly by introducing smaller items to test the water. Everyone needs a baby blanket or a dual purpose play mat, either for expectant, new mums or gifting purposes. Start with the lower value items and take it from there.